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Archive for September, 2015

And the winner is…

Monday, September 28th, 2015

And the winner is…Me!  Yes, that’s right I have won an Enterprise Vision Award (or Evas) in the ‘Sole Trader of the Year’ category.

The Enterprise Vision Awards recognise women in business from across the North West in sixteen categories, ranging from best small business to business woman of the year.  last Friday I attended a prestigious ceremony at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, with my husband, where it was announced that I had won.  Up against four other business women from across the North West, I had to undertake several stages of the competition to secure the award.

The initial stage of the awards was via an application, followed by an interview in Blackpool in July, where a panel of judges assessed me on various aspects of my business including the inspiration to become self employed, achievements and challenges to date, future plans for the business and the drive and passion behind the business.  Throughout August there was also an online vote, where members of the public could vote for me to win – so a massive thank you if you did!

I was stunned to hear my name announced as a winner at the Eva Awards.  All day I had been saying to myself that I wouldn’t win and that it would be a nice night out for my husband and I; to get glammed up and have a good time.  I really didn’t think I’d be standing up in front of 600 people giving a winner’s speech!

There were two other winners from Cumbria.  Alison Tordoff of Fidget Design in Windermere won the award for Creative Industry and Katie Robinson of Made in Flowers based in Kendal, won the Young Entrepreneur category – well done ladies!  I also met some other lovely women in business on my table who all cheered when I won!

To win a North West award is a real accolade for me and my business.  It rewards years of hard work studying, running my own company and making it a success.  I am passionate about the work I do and the clients I help and I think that is what shone through to the judges.  I felt proud to represent Cumbria and help showcase women in business in the area and I want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to cast a vote and help me win.

Feeling Festive in Penrith

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Penrith Chamber of Trade is delighted to announce that the Penrith Winter Festival will be taking place again in 2015.  Vital funding and sponsorship has been received from Penrith Business Improvement District and The Lakes and Dales Cooperative, also supported by Discover Penrith, Penrith Building Society and Cumbrian Homes.

The Festival, which takes place from 28th November to 24th December is in its fourth year and aims to add some festive cheer to Penrith and encouraging people to shop local and support independent businesses.

Over the past few years there have been significant changes to the way in which people do their Christmas shopping.  1 in 5 shoppers now choose to do the majority of their shopping online from the comfort of their own Home*.  2014 also saw some new trends such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday sweeping the market in Britain, which are set to have even more of an impact in 2015.  However, there is very strong evidence to suggest that people have a better “feelgood factor” when they shop at individual shops the Winter Festival is about bringing the whole community together to show what a great town Penrith is and to encourage people to do a little bit of their Christmas shopping here.  Buying just the vegetables for the Christmas Dinner can have a significant impact on the local economy.

Amyn Fazal, President of Penrith Chamber of Trade comments,

A lot of hard work goes into the planning of the Winter Festival and every year, businesses come up with some great ideas and there are some great ones in place for 2015.  We hope even more businesses will really get on board and join in with the Festival and that people from Penrith and right across Cumbria come and experience some of the great events, activities and promotions we have to offer.”

Planning has been happening for several months now as Penrith Chamber of Trade and the Festival team, led by Acorn Marketing have been working with and looking at new ways to get more businesses involved and to attract more people to the town.  Current plans include an #ElfieSelfie Competition, ‘Paint the Town Red’ event where you will be able to upload your images to Discover Penrith’s Festival Galleries online, Christmas Jumper Day, Christmas themed Park Run, Santa’s Post box with Virgin Trains, Totally Locally’s Fiver Fest & Small Business Saturday and festive music from the town band.

This year will also see ‘Penrith Sparkle’ with more Christmas Lights, including a Carol Concert involving local schools and community groups and also a new Christmas Market that will run in the two weekends leading up to Christmas all made possible by Penrith BID and promoted by Discover Penrith.

Penrith Chamber of Trade is encouraging schools, community groups and businesses to get in touch and get involved with the Festival to make it even bigger and better than previous years.

“The funding and sponsorship we receive for the Festival really helps get things going, but participation from the local community and businesses is what really makes an event like this special, shows off the town and encourages people to visit time and time again.”  

Further announcements are due to be made about the Festival in the coming months.  To find out more or to get involved in the Festival visit

Penrith Winter Festival funding secured

Hunter Hall School – Back with a bang!

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

It was back to school for most of the country last week and Penrith’s Hunter Hall started the new term with a bang – shortlisted for Cumbria’s education awards the Golden Apples, appointment of new heads of school and a welcome back disco!

Great news to start the autumn term is that the independent school has been shortlisted for a ‘Golden Apple’ education award in the Early Years category.  The school received several nominations for its work with early year’s pupils and will find out if they have won in a prestigious event held at Carlisle Racecourse in October.

Early Years is a crucial part of a child’s education and the early year’s team reinforce the philosophy that every child deserves the best possible start.  Within the Foundation Stage Unit there is provision for Nursery children aged 3 to 4 along with Reception children aged 4 to 5 years.

What makes early year’s education so special at Hunter Hall and why they have been shortlisted for this award, is that they strive to provide creativity within their innovative early year’s curriculum.  This is fostered through a connection to nature & the unique environment around school. Exploration, discovery and interaction are part of the daily routine with learning which is fun, active and meaningful to the children.

Inspection visits from the Independent Schools Inspectorate have highlighted the high quality teaching and learning, through outstanding provision and stimulating indoor and outdoor environments.

Foundation Stage Manager Jennie Cross comments,

“Our Early Years team feel truly privileged to be teaching & preparing a whole new generation of children for their exciting first experiences of school life and are delighted to have been shortlisted for such an award.”

As well as the awards, individual children have been appointed Heads of School this week. Alexa Weymouth was appointed Head of School and will be helped by her deputies: Harvey Johnston (Head Boy) and Emily Airey (Head Girl). Together they aim to keep the school in ship shape fashion, helping the younger children and looking after new entrants.

Other children who have been given new responsibilities at the school include Rhiannon Thomas as Head Librarian, Boys Games Captains Lewis Elliott and Finlay Hansford and Girls Games Captains Keira Butler and Bethany Cater.

House Captains have also been selected including Amelia Bloomer and Toby Scott for the Squirrels, Arabella Barker-Bland and Dylan Hind for Hares, Oliver Bird and Beth Stafford for Badgers and Angus Fleming and Katie Parmenter for Foxes.

Finally, staff, pupils and parents welcomed new starters to the school in various years with their annual ‘Welcome Back’ Disco on Friday 11th September.  It is an enjoyable event for the children, a lovely way to end the first week of term and is a great way for new children (and their parents) to get to know their classmates just that little bit better whilst they strut a few moves!

Loyalty Cards – what do we really get out of them?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

So just recently when I decided to have my annual purse tidy out, I noticed the obscene amount of loyalty cards I have managed to collect.

From supermarkets to card shops, to eyebrow waxing and smoothies, there appears to be a loyalty card for almost everything. (And between my friends, family and I, we have them all!)

Concerned about my apparent loyalty card addiction, I asked some of friends and family to share with me their hoard.

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The ultimate goal for a marketer is to engage and retain customers. As the name suggests, loyalty cards are a popular way for businesses/shops/services to encourage loyalty or repeat business. These card schemes are big business for the companies that operate them. Not only do they encourage repeat business by creating competitive offers and point systems, but they provide highly valuable data capture, including accurate and detailed information on the spending patterns of their core customers.

As customers, whether it’s collecting stamps or points we all like to feel we are getting a good deal or even the odd reward or freebie. Just last week whilst shopping in Newcastle I redeemed a free smoothie – result! Why do freebies always taste better!?

However, if the frustration of having (like me!) a purse packed full of plastic is too much, there are new technologies being introduced to combat this. Apps such as Google Wallet and Apple Passbook will allow companies to mobilize their loyalty schemes. As we rely more and more on our technology, the demand for a mobile wallet has never been greater…